JERUSALEM (JTA) – Secular businessman Nir Barkat was elected the mayor of Jerusalem.
In Tuesday’s vote, Barkat took 52 percent of the vote to 43 percent for Rabbi Meir Porush, a fervently Orthodox Knesset member of the United Torah Judaism Party. The third contender, Israeli-Russian oligarch Arcadi Gaydamak, took 3.5 percent of the vote.
"There is room in Jerusalem for everyone," Barkat said in a victory speech. "If there’s not room for everyone, then there’s not room for anyone."
Many Jerusalemites viewed this year’s municipal elections to replace the current mayor, Uri Lupolianski, as a turning point for a city that is Israel’s poorest, still vulnerable to terrorist attacks, and wracked by economic, political and religious divisions.
Still, turnout was low, at 41 percent, up from 38 percent five years ago.
Lupolianski was the city’s first haredi, or fervently Orthodox, mayor.